The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

Photograph of Debbie Nez Manuel

Debbie Nez Manuel

NEA Big Read Partner 2021

About Debbie Nez Manuel

Debbie Nez-Manuel is a longtime community leader and activist. Ms. Nez-Manuel is a profoundly impactful advocate for people of color in urban, rural, and remote communities around Arizona. She has extensive experience and expertise in mobilizing citizens into deep and meaningful community engagement. Ms. Nez-Manuel grew up on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona and has lived in the Phoenix metro area for three decades. She has had a successful career with Casey Family Programs in their partnership with Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Ms. Nez-Manuel has a comprehensive and exceptional understanding of the complexities surrounding the victimization of Native American women and girls. She was instrumental to the unanimous passage in the Arizona Senate and House of HB 2570, monumental legislation establishing a 21-member Study Committee on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The bill was the first of its kind in the nation, and other states are following suit. The election of Ms. Nez-Manuel in the Democratic party in January 2020 was a historic milestone for the Arizona Democratic Party as she became its first Indigenous National Committee Person. 

Debbie is Tséníjíkiní – a Navajo clan also known as the Cliff Dweller People. She is born for the Tsénahabiłnii, Sleepy Rock People. Her maternal grandchild of the Tsi’naajinii, Black Streaked Forest People and the paternal granddaughter to the Tábąąhí, Waters Edge People. Debbie Nez-Manuel originates from the Navajo Nation and grew up in Klagetoh Arizona. Today Debbie resides with her husband and children in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. 

Find Events with Debbie Nez Manuel

Only the Beginning: Arizona's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Study Committee
April Ignacio, Jennifer Jermaine, Debbie Nez Manuel, Traci Morris

Date: Friday, March 19, 2021 - 12:00pm
Location: Zoom
Type & Genre: Conversation, Panel, Q&A, Talk; American Indian, Community, Human Rights, Indigenous, Social Justice
On May 9, 2019, the Arizona legislature passed HB2570, creating a Study Committee on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG), which would spend the next year gathering data, reviewing policies, and producing recommendations to take the first steps of bringing this crisis to an end. Join study committee members Representative Jennifer Jermaine, Debbie Nez Manuel, April Ignacio, and Dr. Traci Morris for updates and progress on their work.

About NEA Big Read

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This event is presented as part the NEA Big Read: Phoenix, celebrating Indigenous literary arts and culture in the Valley with over 25 talks, workshops, performances, book clubs, art exhibits other virtual events inspired by The Round House by Louise Erdrich. NEA Big Read: Phoenix is presented by the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University with additional support from Arizona Humanities, Phoenix Public Library, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Humanities Division at ASU. Find events, meet our partners, and start reading today at

Support Indigenous Communities

The Phoenix Indian Center is the oldest American Indian non-profit organization of its kind in the United States, providing workforce development, cultural enrichment, and other vital services to Indigenous communities throughout the Valley for over 70 years. To support their work, visit their website at, click the donate button, enter an amount, and enter "NEA Big Read" in the description. Please consider making a gift to the Phoenix Indian Center today.

Make your gift